Olympic Gold Medalist Dmitriy Balandin Announces Retirement

dmitriy-balandin-kaz-breast-2017-world-champs
Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Olympic Gold Medalist Dmitriy Balandin Announces Retirement

Dmitriy Balandin, Kazakhstan’s first Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, had announced his retirement from the sport.

Balandin made the announcement via social media on Thursday. “We’re not saying goodbye,” he wrote in Russian, “we’re saying see you soon! Thank you for the unforgettable emotions, #teamKZ.”

 

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(A translation of his video speech is available here.)

Balandin, 27, swam at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Tokyo Games in 2021. His coming out party was the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in which he won gold in all three breaststroke events and downed a decade-old meet record belonging to Kosuke Kitajima of Japan.

That set him as a contender for the Rio Games, though his gold-winning performance in the 200 breast was still a shocker. He qualified sixth out of prelims and slipped into finals in eighth place in semis. From Lane 8, he emerged in a jumbled final, in which the eight finishers were separated by less than a second. When the wash settled, his time of 2:07.46 earned gold, .07 up on American Josh Prenot and .34 ahead of Russian Anton Chupkov. The time remains a Kazakhstan record. It upset Ippei Watanabe of Japan, who had set an Olympic record in semis. Balandin went out fast and chased down the leader in that race, Yasuhiro Koseki, who finished fifth.

Balandin was also eighth in the 100 breast in Rio. Like the Rio Games, he was one of only two Kazakh swimmers in Tokyo. He finished 17th in the 100 breast there and 11th in semifinals of the 200 breast, missing out on the final in both. He had been eighth in prelims of the 200.

Balandin won four medal over two World University Games – gold in the 100 and bronze in the 50 in 2015; silver in the 200 and bronze in the 100 in 2017. After three bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games, in which he didn’t swim the 200 breast, Balandin contemplated retirement but continued on to Tokyo.

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